Petition of Matthew Mayhew of Martha's Vineyard and James Coffin of Nantucket to the Massachusetts General Court

To the Honorable William Stoughton, Esq., the Council and Representatives in General Council Assembled


The [1] petition of Matthew Mayhew, representative from Martha’s Vineyard, and James Coffin, representative of Nantucket, humbly sheweth whereas great inconveniences and disturbance hath often happened to the inhabitants of Dukes County and Nantucket, both by the Indians themselves, in small boats bring rum, ciders, and other strong drink from Rhode Island, and often purchasing the same on board vessels coming into the harbor or lying near the shores of said Islands, hereby causing much drunkenness, among the Indians, which often occasions disturbance not only to the sober Indians, who complained thereof, but likewise to the English, and may prove an occasion of discord by outrages committed by the Indians while a great number are in drink. We pray the same may be remedied, by some order of this great and General Court, and humbly propose that if an Act should be made for hindering the importation of any rum, cider, or strong drink there, in greater or less quantities, [2] by any Indians on penalty of forfeiting the same and the value and that the justice of peace in sessions may impower, the several Indian constables to seize the same, or English constables, or that by virtue of an Act, etc., order the Indian or English constable should have power to seize such strong drink, and we humbly conceive if the one moiety be to the informer and officer that so seized, it may be a great means to remedy so great an evil partly already happened and growing daily upon the said places, having formerly had experience of the same.


Which humbly laying before this Honorable Court shall always pray,


Mr. James Coffin,

[ illegible ]

October 3, 1696


Legislative Action:

In the House of Representatives voted that this Honorable the Lieutenant Governour and Council would please to take some speedy course about the Indians at Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket to prevent the inconveniences [3] caused by the great quantities of cider and other strong drink that is brought among them, and sold unto them there. Penn Townsend, Speaker




380, 360a


[1] Deleted Text: Humble

[2] Deleted Text: Except landed at the harbor

[3] Deleted Text: among them